Darryl Strawberry has discovered that the pen is even mightier than his vocal cords.
Strawberry called a news conference in his new stomping grounds at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., yesterday to explain all the charges he has leveled at his old team, the New York Mets, in his just-published book, "Darryl."
And after saying he "couldn't care less what the Mets think of me," he stood behind every last word of that book.
In the book, Strawberry accuses the Mets of racial bias, says he was blamed for everything in New York except the price of Manhattan apartments, and suggests that he "wouldn't be surprised" if his good friend, Dwight Gooden, used cocaine during the 1986 playoffs.
During the news conference, he said all of it again -- and more:
* On current Mets general manager Al Harazin: "I still feel today the man knows nothing about baseball."
* On why he felt the pressure placed on him was racial in nature: "If I had a bad stretch, they [management and reporters] got on me. If [Gary] Carter had a bad stretch, they said, 'He'll be back.' . . . If a black player had a bad year, it wasn't forgiven."
* On whether he could cite any specific examples of racism against him: "All I'd really like to say is, it was very difficult for me. People don't understand. We had a great team over there. But when it came time for them to appreciate me as a player and a personality, there was nothing there. They never got a chance to know me."
* On Gooden: "I wasn't trying to hurt him." The closest Strawberry came to retracting anything in the book was his statement that he never saw any evidence that Gooden used drugs during the playoffs in 1986, the year the Mets won the World Series. "I just said I wouldn't be surprised, because you have to understand -- the next year it happened," he said. Gooden tested positive for cocaine the following spring.
Gooden was offended by the allegations, saying, "I am shocked he would say that."
* On why he had such a bad experience in New York while Gooden, who is also black, has had such a good experience: "Because I was an everyday player, and there are more expectations on an everyday player. . . . I've had greater expectations on me probably than anybody who's ever played for the Mets."
Added Strawberry: "It's my book. It's a great book, too. I'm proud of it."
* Baseball owners begin formal discussions of a Japanese-led offer to buy the Seattle Mariners when they gather today for two days of meetings at an airport hotel outside Chicago.
Although the meetings probably will not result in a final vote on the proposal, at least one owner said the timetable for a decision may be pushed forward.
Washington state's congressional delegation said it has written to commissioner Fay Vincent and the baseball owners to reiterate its support for the offer to buy the Mariners from owner Jeff Smulyan.
The other big issue at the meetings is a proposal to switch St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs to the National League West Division and move Atlanta and Cincinnati to the NL East.
* ANGELS: Team vice president Whitey Herzog confirmed that he has been contacted by the Denver expansion club, but he doesn't intend to change jobs.
* BRAVES: The manager of an Atlanta Braves farm team says he decided to drop its "Get on the Warpath" advertising campaign following criticism that it was too inflammatory.
* ATHLETICS: The wife of Oakland A's slugger Jose Canseco will not press charges of aggravated battery against her husband for ramming her BMW with his Porsche, her attorney said.
* PIRATES: The team agreed to pay $1.26 million in rent to the city to settle a month-old lawsuit against the franchise, the team saidy.